How do you identify it?
Bradford pear trees have gray bark with fissures. Leaves are simple and alternately arranged with an orbicular shape and serrated edges. Flowers are white, and fruits are small, round and brown in color.
Why is it invasive?
After the ‘Bradford’ pear was cultivated, it was believed to be sterile. Each ‘Bradford’ pear is grafted, so the upper parts of the trees are genetically identical. As a result, the tree is unable to pollinate other ‘Bradford’ pears. Still, the ‘Bradford’ pear can cross with other cultivars of Callery pear, and it may cross-pollinate when shoots arise from its rootstock. When this happens, viable seeds are created and spread by birds and other animals. The trees that result from these seeds take over fields and forested areas, shading out and killing native plants. The invasive tree creates dense thickets, and it has large thorns that hurt wildlife movement and make removal and management difficult. These thorns can even pop tires of large equipment!
How can you manage it?
When managing Callery pear, it is important to remove all roots to prevent resprouting. Smaller Callery pears may be removed by hand. Treating stumps with herbicide after cutting is strongly recommended. Basal bark sprays, the cut stump method and the hack-and-squirt method work for larger trees. For smaller trees, use basal bark or foliar sprays. Useful herbicides include triclopyr and glyphosate. Make sure to follow all label instructions.
Bradford Pear is an Invasive Tree (N.C. Tree Farm Program video)
Bradford pear is an invasive tree that cross pollinates with native pears to create a wild variety that out-competes native plants. Learn how to get rid of this tree in your woodlands.
Learn more about the N.C. Bradford Pear Bounty program’s efforts to remove Bradford pear trees in North Carolina.
Callery Pear: ‘Bradford’ and Other Varieties and Their Invasive Progeny (N.C. State Forestry Extension)
Once prized ornamental trees, ‘Bradford’ and other varieties of P. calleryana are an increasing environmental and land management concern. North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky and Indiana have launched “bounties” against the Callery pear. These programs allow homeowners to receive free native trees in return for removing ‘Bradford’ or other planted Callery pears from their property.
Pyrus calleryana (North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox)
Limb breakage is a common problem with Callery pear trees because they have too many upright branches growing too closely together on the trunk. This tree sustains frequent structural damage from wind, ice and snowstorms. This is a weedy to invasive species, that can spread fire blight to other Rosaceous crops.
About the Bradford Pear (N.C. Bradford Pear Bounty)
They are cultivars of the Callery pear, which was brought to the U.S. from China in the early 1900s in an attempt to hybridize them and improve disease resistance of pear trees. Different cultivars are able to cross-pollinate, which allows them to escape into our natural forests where they spread quickly and out-compete native species.
Callery Pear: History, Identification and Control (Alabama Extension)
Callery pears are rapidly growing trees that can form dense thickets, out-competing native plants for light, water and nutrients. The species has proven very successful at invading disturbed areas, open fields, unimproved pastures, rights of ways and forest edges. It is tolerant of partial shade and sites with dry to wet soils.
Callery Pear (Penn State Extension)
Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana) is an invasive landscape tree. This article provides images to assist with identification and offers recommendations for control, including a management calendar and treatment timing table.